Poem In Search of a Horse

by Hayden Saunier


Time is not reading the poem as you

read the poem, but rest assured he’s slipped

inside the room in his soft, polished shoes,

with his little cough, his bowler hat in hand,

so sorry to disturb. It isn’t that he doesn’t like

to read, he loves to lean across your shoulder,

let you feel his breath, a delicate subzero

on your neck, but he’s impatient with anything

but haiku. Ignore him. He’ll pretend

he doesn’t care, proceed to wind the clocks

with tiny keys or stretch out on a sofa, tap

a tree branch on a pane and wait you out.

Meanwhile, the poem persists in its solitary

business of resisting being made, trying

the usual tactics: silence, tantrum, argument

over rules of play until the stuck mind panics,

a tarantula in hot tar, shouts words out

like charades: moon! anapest! plumage! boat!

desperate to drown out that silence accompanying

the figure in the well-cut suit who’s polishing

the gold case of his pocket watch, remarking

how words pile up like big rigs on a fogged-in

freeway: apple! rainfall! pasture! bell! and even

when the poem finds some purchase, scrambles

up a narrow footpath through a field and stands

inside a grassy insect buzz, holding out

a shaky palm of sugar to conjure up a horse,

a distant train will whistle, spooking anything

half wild. You’re back exactly where you started.

Cough-cough. Soft shoes. Tick-tock. No horse.



From Rattle #31, Summer 2009.       +